A giant python was found lying dead next to a cycle track after swallowing a 13.8kg (30lb) porcupine, the spines of which punctured the inside of the snake.
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The python, nearly four metres (around 12 and a half feet) long, died after falling from a rocky ledge in the Lake Eland Game Reserve in South Africa, a fall which is believed to have forced the quills to puncture its digestive tract.
"It is apparent that several porcupine quills were lodged inside the digestive tract. It had fallen off the rocky ledge.
"We don't know if it died beforehand or whether the fall drove some of the quills into its digestive tract."
After the snake was reported to gamekeepers, they performed an autopsy on the animal to remove the porcupine from its innards.
After cutting the porcupine out, they found the insides of the snake had been pierced by dozens of the animal’s sharps quills.
Many snakes rely on thermal and chemical sensory mechanisms to ambush prey, meaning that some do not see threatening defence mechanisms until they have already swallowed their victims.
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